Someplace on a sandy walkway in Pismo Beach, California, there was a woman who spotted something distinct and shiny on the ground. Funny thing is, she was jogging and might easily have dismissed this speck of color and kept moving. She might have focused instead, on the soft pounding of her feet that echoed in her eardrums, or been distracted by the ocean air that rushed past her face in cool, salty waves.
But she didn’t keep going.
Instead, this curious stranger stopped jogging, picked up the object and discovered my son’s face on the front of a California driver’s license.
Of course when she held this plastic object in her hands, she knew nothing about the owner, who happened to be my son, Patrick.
She had never known that his wallet had been stolen out of his back pack while he was studying for his finals at a local coffee shop in San Luis Obispo, California.
Nor did she realize that this culprit had immediately emptied Patrick’s bank account using his ATM and driver’s license and spent his money before Patrick realized what had occurred, leaving him completely broke.
In fact, as she went searching for a stamp and began carefully copying my son’s name and address onto an envelope, she had no way of knowing about his bout of bad luck that included a broken phone, stolen cash, identity theft and his toughest exams yet to come.
She never heard our late-night phone call, between a mom and a dad and a tired kid. And the heavy sound of discouragement that we heard in his voice.
None of these facts were necessary to this mysterious stranger. Because two days later, and three hundred miles away from this beach, I walked to my mailbox.
Where I discovered this letter addressed to my son.
Which is extraordinary, if you stop and think about it. Not only was the license returned, but it came accompanied by words that were astonishing for their sheer kindness.
“Hope you weren’t too worried…”
“I’m happy I found it and could get it back to you!”
Who is this person, this stranger from miles away who would make time in her bustling day to pen a handwritten note to some random, unknown face?
Because the simple act of giving without ANY expectation of something in return is a powerful act that deserves a pause. Especially when it’s an act that requires a disruption in our day and the inconvenient gathering of items, with a trip to a mailbox.
And what about her note. Would you have taken the extra time to include this?
Would I? I’m not sure. Depending on the sheer busyness of my day, it might strike me as quite enough to simply get the license into the mailbox.
Which brings me to this point. You can call me corny. But I believe that acts such as Margie’s never go unseen, no matter how quiet and small the circumstance. And I like to imagine that like the delicate ripples of air that begin from the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings, kindness spreads in ways that we cannot possibly see or understand.
We each have the power to spread kindness.
So today’s post is being written for a thoughtful woman named Margie.
wherever she may be…
… may these words be a mere beginning of the ripples of positive feeling that come her way…
Today I am humbled by this question.
When was the last time I did something kind for a stranger?